Visit, Live, Retire in Bermuda

The island is small – very small, about the same population as Guildford (UK) just 21 square miles in a very non-square shape which is nowhere more than two miles across from shore to shore. It is divided into 9 parishes of which Pembroke, Paget and Devonshire are the most central.

Retire in Hamilton, BermudaSounds very English doesn’t it – place names certainly are and the language is, but there are plenty of differences that will catch you: take-out rather than take-away, sidewalk rather than pavement (of which there are very few), but as a British Overseas Territory then British expats will feel quite at home here.

So driving –
on the left – tick
traffic lights and roundabouts – tick
left hand drive cars – tick
Easy? NO!

I have been driving for over 30 years in UK but that doesn’t help the pre-test panics in any way. Yes, I said “test” – no way round it, everyone has to take a driving test to get a Bermudian licence and there are no exceptions for UK licence-holders. When you hear that the speed limit is 35km per hour (22 miles per hour) – well that’s easy then …. again, not at all – the roads are narrow, few road signs, unusual road markings, blind bends, dead ends, and strange Bermudian habits ….

Three things will strike you –

1. They beep the horn for anything and everything, it doesn’t mean you have done something wrong (well usually) it probably means hi, or there’s a rain cloud up ahead

2. Bermudians will stop in the middle of the road without warning, not pulling across to the side, perhaps to let out a passenger, or pick one up, or maybe just to talk to the driver of the car coming towards them

3. There are mopeds everywhere.

So now you have a place to live and a driving licence, your spouse is going out to work (even if it is 9-5 the pace of work will make it feel like retirement) so what on earth are you going to do?

I have always worked, yes with time out for family, but stopping work at 53 was not on my original plan. But what I have learnt is that I can make myself busy with almost anything, I am enjoying trying new things and to date (7 months) have not once missed work! Obviously the financial maths needs attention before embarking on a Bermuda adventure – the cost of living is high and health insurance is compulsory (no National Health Service). But there are many many people around my age doing a similar thing to us – almost-but-not-quite-retired.

Volunteer – fancy turtle scrubbing or zoo-keeping? meals-on-wheels or hospital visitor? librarian or receptionist? art gallery or historic house? teaching or reading? sponsored walks or gardening? archiving or scrap-booking? website or fundraising?
I chose to volunteer with the Bermuda National Trust – docent, museum reception, gift shop and researcher – none of these had I done before, yet I am enjoying them all immensely. Maybe next year I will try something different again.

Not all work – there are hundreds of clubs to join, golf, tennis, reading, women’s groups, walking, mah-jong, bridge, gardening, craft, poetry, drama, painting, ….
And together? snorkeling, swimming, boats, restaurants, travel…

Then there are days like today where you can just curl up with a book, a coffee and some music. 🙂

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  1. Patrick Robertson

    November 6, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    Visited Bermuda once and loved the place and the people; even met a Bermudian travel guide who was a fellow alumnus of the University of Detroit. Would starting a small pet sitting business which would eventually employ local citizens possibly qualify me for a residency permit?

  2. Another source disagrees with your assessment of retirement cost, claiming there is no sales tax, and no minimum price, but that property tax can be up to fifty percent of value.

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